Car crashes into support column of Benchmark Plaza building in Avon
AVON — At 7:30 a.m. Friday, Adam Roustom’s phone rang. A friend was on his way to Loaded Joe’s and asked if Roustom knew about the car smashed into Roustom’s building.
“I threw on pants and a pair of flip flops and came right down,” he said.
Roustom and his wife, Elli, own Blue Plate, a restaurant located on the east end of the Benchmark Plaza building, nicknamed by locals the Boat Building because it resembles a luxury liner.
Avon officials say a Chrysler 300 rental car rolled over a road sign by Pazzo’s Pizza across the street, and careened into an exterior support pillar outside Roustom’s Blue Plate restaurant.
A structural engineer was rushed to the scene and quickly determined that the pillar provides structural support for the building’s second and third floors, leaving that part of the building in “imminent danger of collapse,” said Willy Gray, Avon’s building inspector.
The auto was not removed immediately – they want everyone to leave the building alone, Gray said.
The Boat Building, 48 E Beaver Creek Boulevard, has been evacuated, Gray said.
The car was moving fast enough that its airbags deployed during the crash.
No alcohol was involved, authorities said, and a patient was transported to the hospital with minor injuries following the crash.
A local firm, Contract One, will get the building shored up, bringing in steel beams and the tools to weld them together. Contract One has an office in the Benchmark Plaza building.
Because of the fear of collapse, a full structural inspection can’t be made until they alleviate the load on the existing pillar, Avon officials said.
Blue Plate and Vin 48 occupy the first floor. Offices and other businesses fill the upper floors.
Though learning the news gave the couple “a sickening feeling in our guts,” Roustom said he was impressed with how quickly and professionally both the police and fire departments responded.
“Luckily nobody was hurt, no life was lost. I like to say buildings can be rebuilt, lives can’t be replaced,” Roustom said.
Eleven years, and now?
Eleven years ago Adam and Elli opened their own restaurant, Blue Plate Bistro, in the Christie Lodge. Four years later they made the leap across the street, changed the name to Blue Plate, and have enjoyed steady growth ever since.
“It’s not a good feeling, to have something you’ve built for eleven years of your life, possibly destroyed,” he said. “Anything is possible now. There’s no point in getting too worked up over it.”
Blue Plate was going to offer Syrian lamb shakriya as a special today: braised lamb in a yogurt sauce and garnished with spearmint, toasted pistachios and almonds. Syria is famous for its cooked yogurt sauces. It’s a bittersweet detail for Roustom, who was born in Syria and moved to the U.S. with his family as a child.
“When I thought of the building collapsing and what it would look like, I thought of the sort of destruction Syrians live with every day,” he said.
He is taking comfort in the fact that all 30 of his employees are safe.
The valley’s commercial and residential property markets are similar in some ways — availability is tight and nothing is what you’d call “cheap.”